From Kolob Canyon to Angels Landing: Our Journey Through Zion National Park

From Kolob Canyon to Angels Landing: Our Journey Through Zion National Park

From the solitude of Kolob Canyon, all the way to the excitement of attempting Angels Landing, our journey through Zion National Park was an incredible experience, and we immersed ourselves in the breathtaking beauty of one of America’s most iconic National Parks!

The first of Utah’s Mighty Five that we visited was Zion, and we were mesmerized from the very moment we arrived. We were astonished by the colors, and especially the contrast of the blue sky against the red rocks, and it painted a picture that we couldn’t wait to explore!

Your Gateway to Zion: Exploring the Visitor Center

Zion National Park is in Southern Utah, about 30 minutes north of St George, or about three hours north of Las Vegas.

Upon arriving at Zion, our first stop was the Visitor Center, where we gathered information about the park’s amenities and attractions. The Visitor Center serves as the starting point for exploring Zion Canyon and it provided us with valuable resources that helped make the most of our visit. From purchasing tickets to grabbing trail maps and souvenirs, the Visitor Center is a one-stop shop for all your park needs. The center is open every day of the year from 8 until 5.

The center is where you can buy your Zion National Park tickets*. Tickets are valid for a week and cost $20 per person or 35 dollars per car.

Tip: If you plan on visiting a few National Parks, we highly recommend buying the America the Beautiful pass*. This pass is valid per car for one year, and only costs 80 dollars- an incredible bargain!

Parking is free and is on a first come first served basis. The visitor center is busy, so if you want to find a place to park, be sure to arrive early.

And, of course, it’s where you can get your National Park Passport stamped!

From Kolob Canyon to Angels Landing: Our Journey Through Zion National Park began at the Visitor Center
The gateway to Zion National Park

Getting Around Zion National Park: Navigating Zion with the Shuttle

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to cars for most of the year. However, navigating Zion National Park is a breeze thanks to the Zion Canyon Shuttle. The shuttle takes about 45 minutes one way, and the price is included with admission. We loved riding the shuttle and found it to provide a great overview of the park.

With informative commentary and frequent stops, the shuttle provides easy access to the park’s main attractions and hikes. There are 9 shuttle stops, and buses leave every 5-7 minutes. The first shuttle into the Canyon leaves the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 6:00 am during summer, and 7:00 am in the spring and fall. The last shuttle back to the Visitor Center is at 8:15 pm during the summer, and 7:15 in the spring and fall.

There are water filling stations at every stop, so be sure to fill your water bottles, and stay hydrated! Check with the visitor center to find out which stop is best for your hiking experience.

Getting Around Zion National Park: Navigating Zion with the Shuttle
Navigating Zion with the Shuttle

Where to Stay: Accommodations near Zion National Park

Springdale, Utah is located at the entrance of Zion National Park, and this beautiful little mountain town is probably the best place to make your base.

Situated at the park’s entrance, Springdale offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s budget and needs. Whether you opt for a hotel or find a cozy Airbnb, Springdale serves as an ideal base for exploring Zion.

Plus, take advantage of the free shuttle service to navigate the town hassle-free. If you’re going into Zion National Park from Springdale via shuttle, be sure to give yourself plenty of time- the morning buses were full, and it took us longer than we expected to get to the visitor center.

Springdale has many restaurants, grocery stores, rental shops, and a great brewery- Zion Brewery – where we enjoyed a few delicious local beers!

Tip: Try the Springdale Amber- it was delicious!

Enjoying a cool beer after hiking in Zion NP
Try the Amber at Zion Brewery

Springdale is a gorgeous town and is our recommendation to stay when visiting Zion National Park!

Take advantage of the free Shuttle in Springdale
Take the free Shuttle in Springdale

Unforgettable Hikes: Exploring Zion National Park’s Iconic Trails

Zion National Park is renowned for its diverse hiking trails, and each hike offers its own unique charm. From leisurely strolls along the dog-friendly Pa’rus Trail to the adrenaline-pumping ascent of Angels Landing, there’s something for every adventurer in Zion Canyon!

There are 12 hikes within Zion Canyon, ranging from an easy 30 minutes to a full day. There are 4 additional hikes found outside the Canyon.

Zion offers so many hikes that every visitor will have many choices! You can choose hikes from family-friendly and easy, to strenuous and thrilling for the adrenaline junkies among you!

Exploring Zion National Park's Iconic Trails
Exploring Zion National Park’s Iconic Trails
  • Choose hikes that are within your ability
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks
  • Be aware of weather conditions
  • Respect wildlife

Kolob Canyon: Zion’s Best-Kept Secret

Kolob Canyon is Zion's Best Kept Secret
Kolob Canyon: Zion’s Best Kept Secret

Many travelers might overlook Kolob Canyon, a lesser-known section of Zion National Park. Visiting Kolob Canyon was our first stop in Zion National Park. We didn’t even know that Kolob Canyon is part of the National Park!

However, its serene beauty and smaller crowds make Kolob a must-visit destination. Less known, and less crowded, Kolob Canyon doesn’t have to hide behind Zion’s main and better-known areas. And compared to the bustling trails of Zion Canyon, the quiet beauty of Kolob Canyon offered a refreshing escape!

Us at Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park
Kolob Canyon at Zion National Park

The Taylor Creek Trail: Solitude in Kolob Canyon

There are 3 hikes at Kolob Canyon, 2 of which were closed due to excessive spring snowmelt when we visited in mid-May.

The Taylor Creek Trail
The Taylor Creek Trail

We embarked on the Taylor Creek Trail and hiked through a canyon that was framed by towering red cliffs that rose up sharply on both sides of us. Despite our late start, we were surprised that the trail was empty. We assume it’s because this trail is not as famous as the trails inside Zion Canyon. But it doesn’t lack in beauty!

After crossing the middle fork of the Talyor Creek for seemingly the 50th time, the trail cumulated at the breathtaking Double Arch Alcove. We arrived at the arch at golden hour and the red rock sparkled in the sunlight. We were told that there was another waterfall up the trail. But, because of all the water crossings, we needed to head back before it got too dark.

The many river crossings at Kolob Canyon
Crossing the Taylor River at Kolob Canyon Zion

It took us 4,5 hours to complete the Taylor Creek Trail, including many photo stops and chats with the few fellow travelers we met along the trail.

We made it to the Double Arch
We made it to the Double Arch

Getting to Kolob Canyon: Insider Tips and Directions

Located just off exit 40 on Interstate 15, Kolob Canyon is easily accessible from Cedar City and St. George, as well as Las Vegas. With a $35 per vehicle fee, which also grants access to the main area of Zion, it’s a worthwhile stop on your Zion adventure.

Don’t forget to consider the “America the Beautiful” pass for unlimited access to national parks throughout the year!

We would highly recommend including Kolob Canyon in your Zion National Park adventure.

The Double Arch Alcove at Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park
The Double Arch Alcove at Kolob Canyon

Pa’rus Trail: a dog-friendly trail in Zion National Park

Our first hike inside Zion Canyon was the easy Pa’rus Trail. We know that many of you love to travel with your pets, and we chose this trail so we could take the two dogs we were caring for with us. The Pa’rus Trail is the one trail in Zion National Park that is dog-friendly.

Pa’rus Trail: a dog friendly trail in Zion National Park
Golden hour on the Pa’rus Trail

As the golden hour approached, we enjoyed our evening hike along the beautiful trail. The Pa’rus Trail offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and was the perfect introduction to Zion’s natural splendor.

The Pa’rus Trail starts at the parking lot behind the Visitor Center. The trail follows the Virgin River up to Canyon Junction and back. If you do the full hike, it will take about two hours.

There is little to no shade on the Pa’rus Trail, so it is best to come in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun shines on the red rocks and the entire Canyon glows!

The gorgeous and well-behaved dogs that we had with us on the Pa’rus Trail aren’t ours. They are 2 of the many incredible pets that we care for as house sitters! If you would like to learn more about our house-sitting adventures, please follow us on Instagram and/or on Facebook at @yourperfecthousesitters.

If you’re ready to give house sitting a try, we have a code for Trusted House Sitters that gives you a 25% discount on your membership. And it supports our travels by giving us 2 free months of membership!*

Pa’rus might not be your most memorable hike in the park, but it is a great way to warm up your hiking legs!

The Pa'rus Trail is a pet-friendly trail at Zion
Walk your pooches on the Pa’rus Trail

Conquering the West Rim Trail

Excited by our first day on the Pa’rus Trail, we next ventured deeper into the heart of Zion and tackled one of the park’s most famous hikes: the West Rim Trail. This is the trail that takes hikers up to Scout Lookout, and onto Angels Landing, if you dare!

After getting off the Zion Canyon shuttle at The Grotto stop, there is a footbridge that takes you across the Virgin River. Cross the bridge then turn right and join the West Rim Trail.

The trail starts out with a gentle climb, with breathtaking views of Angels Landing ahead, and the Great White Throne across the river on your right.

The hike then traverses up a set of switchbacks. This section of the trail is long and steep, and we were surprised by how narrow and how close the path is to the edge in some places. Be sure to take this hike at your own pace and don’t feel rushed by the other hikers around.

Steep switchbacks up to Scout Landing
Steep switchbacks up to Scout Landing

It was getting warmer, and we quickly broke a sweat- but we were rewarded by the view of Zion Canyon from what we thought was the best of the entire hike!

Conquering the West Rim Trail
The incredible views of the West Rim Trail

We finally pulled ourselves away from the views and entered what is known as Refrigerator Canyon.

Refrigerator Canyon is shady and cool, and because of the animals that live here, it is a quiet zone. It’s a great place to escape the heat of the day and we truly enjoyed the cool and fresh air, the amazing rock formations, and to give our legs a bit of a break as this section of the trail is easy as it is relatively flat.

Wandering up Walter’s Wiggles

Views of Angels Landing
Views of Angels Landing

What came next were the famous Walter’s Wiggles. Walter’s Wiggles are another set of switchbacks that snake their way up to Scout Lookout and Angels Landing. The switchbacks here are shorter than the last ones but are a lot steeper!

There are 21 switchbacks in total, and we stopped thousands of times to try to catch our breath, and to give our throbbing legs a break!

We weren’t alone in taking a lot of breaks and found that the best part of Walter’s Wiggles was all the fellow travelers that we met along the way. There was a true sense of community doing this hike!

From Kolob Canyon to Angels Landing Our Journey Through Zion National Park, Taking a break on Walter's Wiggles
Taking a break on Walter’s Wiggles

Rewarded at Scout Lookout

Once you finish Walter’s Wiggles, the West Rim Trail levels off and you enter a flat open area that is named Scout Lookout.

Ascending the arduous Walter’s Wiggles, we were rewarded with endless views at the top of Scout Landing. Despite the challenge, the sense of accomplishment we felt was unparalleled, and we stood in awe of the majestic scenery stretching before us in all directions.

After resting and catching our breath at Scout Lookout, we then did something that really surprised the both of us!

Angels Landing: A Thrilling Experience

While still reveling in our accomplishment, we overheard a group of hikers saying they had two permits for Angles Landing that they didn’t need. And the best part was they wanted to give them away! Without even thinking I replied that we would take them. What?!

It must have been a moment of stupidity and extremely out of our norm! But after completing Walter’s Wiggles, we felt like we could conquer the world! So, we attempted Angels Landing!

Angels Landing: A Thrilling Experience!
Attempting Angels Landing

The hike to Angles Landing is only accessible with a permit. Permits are available only online. The permit system is used to limit the number of people that go up to Angels Landing.

We read that there have been fatalities at Angels Landing. So, to say that we were scared is an understatement. However, we couldn’t believe our luck, and our hearts were pounding with excitement and nervousness.

Slowly, one step at a time, and gripping the chain tightly, we climbed up the first few meters. After the first section, we saw that many people were sitting on the rock along the Ridgeback. This is where James went. But not me. My body froze. Not on the Ridgeback, but at the worst spot possible. Directly at the edge!

Angels Landing: Decision Time

We sat there for maybe 5 minutes trying to decide if we could continue. My heart was racing faster and faster, and my fear of heights was kicking in. We finally built the courage to make our way back down slowly.

Decision time at Angels Landing
Decision time at Angels Landing

There is no way that we should have attempted Angels Landing- this hike is for serious hikers, and something could have gone tragically wrong. It is especially not for someone like me with a fear of heights. Not only because of me being afraid, but also because of the stupidity of other people. As we were going back down, one hiker couldn’t wait and was pushing me to go faster. But there was no way that I could. In his impatience, he stepped over the chain to continue to the other side, and then almost fell. He wildly grabbed the chain, and in doing so, put everyone around him in danger.

We love getting out of our comfort zones, but we also don’t want to force things when it doesn’t feel right.

In the end, we are proud that we made it up to Scout Lookout. The West Rim Trail was incredible, and it is something that we will never forget!

Embarking on the Angels Landing hike was a thrilling experience, but it’s essential to prioritize safety. With steep drop-offs and narrow paths, this hike isn’t for the faint of heart. However, with proper preparation and caution, we’re sure that Angels Landing would offer unparalleled views and a sense of accomplishment unlike any other!

Reflecting on our Journey through Zion National Park

We had an unforgettable time at Zion National Park and were truly sad to leave. The nature, the park, the canyon, the variety of hikes, everything exceeded our expectations. As well as our imaginations! We had seen many videos and pictures of Zion, but being there ourselves, doing everything that we did, brought our visit to another level!

When we think about our USA road trip, Utah, and especially its national parks played a huge role, and made it more than special!

Leaving Zion National Park was bittersweet. However, the memories of our adventure will forever stay with us. From the tranquil beauty of Kolob Canyon to the towering cliffs of Angels Landing, our journey through Zion National Park was unforgettable, and each day brought new discoveries and a renewed sense of adventure.

Zion National Park captivated us in ways we never imagined. Our journey through this iconic park was nothing short of remarkable, and we can’t wait to return!

From Kolob Canyon to Angels Landing: Our Journey Through Zion National Park was unforgettable
Reflecting on our Zion Adventure

Everything you need to know to plan for your trip to Zion National Park

  • Zion National Park and the Visitor Center is open year-round.
  • The entry fee into Zion is US $35 per car, per week. Permits can be bought at the Visitor Center or online.
  • Most National Parks cost between $20 to $35 each. If you are planning to visit several parks, the yearly “America the Beautiful” pass will save you money. A yearly pass for ALL US National Parks can be purchased for US $80 per car, per year. You can order the park pass online or purchase it at most National Park Visitor Centers.
  • The shuttle bus is the only way to get from A to B inside Zion Canyon from early spring to late fall. The informative drive is about 40 minutes one way, and the price is included in your weekly or yearly pass.
  • The park offers a great informational handout that details all campground and lodge locations, hikes, and park shuttle stops.
  • The Visitor Center is open from 8 am until 5 pm.
  • Free parking is available at the Visitor Center on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early if you want to park. There is paid parking outside the park.
  • Depending on ranger availability you can join free programs about geology, plants, animals, etc.
From Kolob Canyon to Angels Landing: Our Journey Through Zion National Park started at the Visitor Center
Zion NP Visitor Center

Hikes in Zion National Park

  • Zion National Park offers several hikes:
    • Easy hikes: Pa’rus Trail, Lower Emerald Pool Trail, The Grotto Trail, Weeping Rock Trail, Riverside Walk.
    • Moderate hikes: Canyon Overlook, Watchman Trail, Sand Bench Trail, Kayenta Trail, Middle Emerald Pool Trail, Upper Emerald Pool Trail.
    • Strenuous hikes: Scout Lookout via West Rim Trail, The Narrows.
  • Kolob Canyon hikes include Timber Creek Overlook Trail, Taylor Creek Trail, and Kolob Arch via La Verkin Creek Trail.

Watch our Journey through Zion National Park on YouTube

Watch us explore Zion National Park on YouTube!

* Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you make a purchase through the links provided, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Puttering around the World!

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